NASA cancels planned greenhouse gas-monitoring satellite

November 30, 2022

NASA has canceled a satellite designed to monitor greenhouse gas emissions over North and South America after the project became too costly and complicated.

The Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory was announced in 2016. The $166 million mission, as planned, would have observed the Americas from an orbit 22,000 miles above the equator and measured the total concentration of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide daily.

By 2022, the mission cost increased to $600 million due to equipment costs doubling and other non-technical issues adding even more costs to the program.

“This doesn’t reflect any reduction in our commitment to the science, the observations associated with greenhouse gases and climate change,” NASA Earth Sciences director Karen St. Germain told the Associated Press. “We’re still committed to doing that science. But we’re going to have to do it a different way because we don’t see this instrument coming together.”

NASA has two dedicated satellites that monitor carbon dioxide, and commercial and non-profit firms, like Al Gore’s Climate TRACE coalition, monitor methane and other greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations also recently announced it established an initiative to track methane, called the Methane Alert and Response System.

Human activities, especially the increased use of fossil fuels over the last century, have been identified as the primary drivers of climate change, the long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns that have affected the way people live.

The state of Indiana is 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was in 1895, and average annual precipitation has increased by 5.6 inches since 1895, a 15% increase. The state will get about 5 degrees hotter and much wetter by the end of the century if emissions continue at their current pace.

Hoosier communities have invested millions of dollars to keep up with the changes that are already happening and might have to invest millions more if greenhouse gases continue changing the climate.

NASA cancels planned greenhouse gas-monitoring satellite